Archives for March 2012

Excellent Photo Adventures…Spirit Of The American Southwest Day 1

Red rock country, it gets under you skin.  My dad was born and raised in Southern Utah and loved red rock country all his life.  He loved to share his love of the southwest with others including my mom and me.  I too grew to love the mystique  and lure of the red sandstone and enjoy sharing some of my favorite locales with others.  Over the next two weeks, I’ll be visiting the slot canyons near Page, AZ and Monument Valley area with some fellow adventurers and sharing our finds with you here.

We were greeted with a downright cold wind and snow/hail on our ride from St George, UT to Page and were greeted with the last remnants of the storm as we arrived in Page.  We quickly checked in to our hotel and headed out to catch last light over Lake Powell.  It was dramatic with light playing over the landscape while curtains of rain moved by.  I love the color contrast of the warm rocks and the deep blue of the storm…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR

 

What a great location to test drive my new D4.  I had already read the instruction book, adjusted the settings to my preference and taken some test shots before coming to the southwest and was very anxious to put it to work.  Our first day in Page was filled with visits to several slot canyons in the area.  What a great challenge for the metering system with deep canyons lit from above by the sun with light bouncing from rock to rock warming some walls while throwing others into dark shadows.    I have to say I am very impressed with how it handled the light in this difficult situation.  This is a one click exposure…

Nikon D4, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR

 

Even as well as the camera handled the contrasty light it simply can’t capture all the range of light that we were faced with in the slot canyons.  I found myself dialing in bracketing to capture the range of light over several frames to merge into an HDR later.  Not wanting to jiggle the camera when I squeezed the shutter, I set the self timer to 2 seconds and…the camera took the full sequence of bracketed exposures with only one touch of the button.  I love this  new feature (Canon users have already had this feature in some bodies) as it helps to insure that there won’t be any camera movement between frames from my hitting the shutter each time…

Nikon D4, AF-S 14-24mm 2.8

 

With all the saturated colors of the slot canyons it’s easy to forget that the graphic patterns make great B&W images as well.  Using my widest lens allowed me to capture 180 degrees of view which emphasizes the sweep of the patterns in the sandstone in tight quarters…

Nikon D4, AF 16mm 2.8 Fisheye

 

We are off to a great start.  More slot canyons tomorrow as well as a special night shoot.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Nikon D4 Ships…Just In Time!

I eagerly opened the door to my FedEx delivery man this morning knowing that he had my new Nikon D4 in hand.  I signed for my new camera, thanked the FedEx guy and headed straight to the counter to open the box, put the battery on the charger and outfit my camera with the needed accessories…

New Nikon D4 with Really Right Stuff L-Bracket (bracket pre-ordered)

 

Nikon D4 with Hoodman HoodEye Rubber Eyecup, Lexar 16GB CF and Sony XQD Cards

As soon as my battery is finished charging I’ll set up my camera and menus before taking it out to give it a quick test before heading to the Southwest for two full weeks of Excellent Photo Adventures in some very special locales…

Intimate Landscape in Lower Antelope Canyon

That’s right…just because the sun goes down doesn’t mean we’ll put our cameras away.  We are in the southwest at prime time for night photography and will take advantage of clear nights to make star trails, night photos and time lapse images while we sleep…

Night Photo: 3:12AM, 400 ISO f8 for 6 minutes

I can’t wait to photograph familiar places with a new camera!  Stay tuned!

Cuba…This One’s For Frank!

On our wanderings the first day in Havana we found fenced in area that was about the size of a city block filled with old, rust bucket steam engines.  We walked the entire area looking for an entrance in to no avail.  I was very disappointed as Frank works for Amtrak, our nations railroad and I wanted to share our find with him.  I knew he would get a kick out of these old steam engines.  On our last afternoon in Havana we happened past the “train boneyard” and found the gate open with men working inside.  Joan pointed at her camera and was waved right in.  Through their Spanish with broken English and our English with broken Spanish we were able to communicate enough to learn that they were restoring the trains to put on display at the train depot.  I’d say they have their work cut out for them…

5 frame HDR in one stop increments

It was a laborious job but, they were taking it one train at a time.  And yet still had a minute to stop and enjoy a conversation with curious tourists…

Train-man. Restoring trains one at a time

So, Frank, this post is for you!  My own train-man!

 

Cuba…Last Look

I can’t imagine less than a week in cuba and ten days may be about right.  On the other hand, as wonderful as it s, how friendly and kind the people and the many photo opportunities, it is always good to head back home to my own bed, my two kitties (Goldie & Malu) and most of all to my husband (Frank).  You see, it was nearly impossible to get a line out to the US.  The internet was out a few times when I asked and finding a location where I could call the US (no matter the high cost) was nearly impossible.  I did manage one call to Frank to let him know we had made it, were safe and sound and having a wonderful time, see you in a week.  So, while I bid a fond farewell to cuba, my thoughts were already turning towards my homecoming. j

I’ll leave you with some last photos and thoughts on Cuba…

The Photographer

I spent several mornings working the morning rush traffic in front of our Casa Particular.  It wasn’t until I was editing the images that I realized I had photographed the same man an car on two different mornings.  With all the cars to choose from I selected this car and got my best images of the morning…

Same car...different day. Talk about timing! See car in Wed post

Saturday mornings are for cleaning and getting caught up on the week and doing chores.  I came across a barber giving a man a close cut on the front steps of his house…

A barber who makes house calls

Or, you can go to a barbershop…

Haircut please

One morning Joan and I were out exploring early and wound up in chinatown.  We stopped to watch a Thai Chi (?) class in progress when the man watching the gate opened it up and invited us in to watch and photograph.  These five were some of the best of the morning…

Thai Chi

I’m sure it’s partly the heat and partly their friendly nature that draws Cuban to their windows and porches to watch the world go by…

A woman watches the morning commute from her balcony window

Or, to sit for awhile and visit with friends…

The boys club

There were photos at every turn, the key was knowing when to click and when to keep moving.  I was on constant lookout for images that captured my imagination…

B&W and Color combined to simulate the feeling of age and yet not diminish the colorful people

 

 

View of Havana facing east

 

Sillhouette of fishermen and Havana at sunset

 

 

Night lights of Havana

Plans for an Excellent Photo Adventure…Viva Cuba! are under way.  Contact laurie@laurieexcell.com for more information.